I’ve struggled to understand how it all happened. In hindsight, I feel naive. I wanted to believe in him so badly. I had confidence that he was all of the things that he claimed. Who was I to question him? After all, I lived in a small, studio apartment and drove a used car. Seth had a college degree and he obviously knew what he was doing – he had the cars and home to substantiate that claim.
Growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of money. My dad was a single parent and he worked his butt off to keep a roof over our heads. I remember driving to the Seth’s parent’s home for the first time– and being very intimidated.
Seth bragged a lot. At the time we started dating, he had landed his first job and he was going to be making six-figures. This world was very new to me. He was very generous with his money and very flashy– a simple trip to Walmart for a beach towel would end with a $200-300 total…many of the items purchased for me. He took me shopping in Hollywood for bikinis—no small-town boutique was good enough for his girl. His running motto in Las Vegas was that if you didn’t blow at least a $1,000 per day then you weren’t doing it right.
Seth paid for everything I paid for nothing. He refused my attempts to split checks in restaurants and seemed offended that I would even try to pay for something. He made comments like, “You’ve obviously dated the wrong men. You’ve dated boys. What real man would let you pay your way?!”. I grew accustomed to this lifestyle and I liked it. This must be chivalry and I had never been privy to this.
We started dating in June of 2000 and by September of 2000, he had bought me a new car. Yes, a car. I was moving to the big city with him and he couldn’t imagine “his girl” driving a used vehicle in the big city. I was in shock. My family was in shock. He met my father around that time and asked him to step outside for a few minutes. He wanted to have a “few words” with my dad– man to man. He told my dad that he no longer needed to worry about me financially or otherwise. Seth promised that he would ensure that I had everything I wanted and needed. We were all sold. Literally. Hook, line and sinker.
We moved in together after dating less than four months. Seth wanted to “start fresh”. This meant that he didn’t want to bring used furniture, pots, pans, dishes, towels or curtains into our home. We deserved everything new. This was the first of many manic shopping sprees however at the time I had no idea the severity of the situation. To me, it was thrilling. We got to go out and purchase an entire house of furniture without even worrying about the cost? This was a whole new world that I could get used to. We started shopping. We spent over $5,000 in the first furniture store within 2 hours. We then went to Bed, Bath & Beyond where we filled his entire Jeep with accessories– it took two trips to the car just to unload everything. Our house was perfect from top to bottom. Perfect— just the way he liked things.
I started seeing signs of issues early on. Within a month or two of being in the Bay Area I started noticing his insomnia. He would pace back and forth and mumble. He seemed stressed. I overheard a phone call to his older brother and he was asking him to transfer money until his next paycheck came. When I asked about it, I was made to feel inferior. I was a girl with no college degree– how dare I question him.
Seth had a million excuses– this is just the way the “real world” works. Transferring money around between family members– that’s what family is for. There were the other excuses– he was waiting for a work bonus or he just needed to sell that one car which sat in the driveway. I learned to have faith in him because it was easier than upsetting him. Upsetting him resulted in him shutting down– void of feelings, void of emotions and void of love. Upsetting him caused him to withdraw from me and close me out. He would ignore me. It left me feeling alone.
By this point, he had convinced me that I needed him. That I couldn’t live without him. He also had me convinced that I was extremely lucky that he had chosen me to be in his life. He was settling for someone who didn’t go to college and who didn’t come from an upper-middle class family. I was thankful.
One Mom’s Battle: Our mission at One Mom’s Battle is to increase awareness of Cluster B personality disorders (Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder) and their impact upon shared parenting and the Family Court System which includes Judges, CPS workers, Guardian ad Litems (GAL), Parenting Coordinators (PC), Custody Evaluators, therapists and attorneys. Education on Cluster B disorders will allow these professionals to truly act in the best interest of the children.
History of One Mom’s Battle: In 2009, One Mom’s Battle began with one mother, (Tina Swithin), navigating the choppy waters of a high-conflict divorce in the Family Court System. Since then, it has turned into a grassroots movement reaching the far corners of the Earth. Tina’s battle spanned from 2009 – 2014 during which time she acted as her own attorney. Ultimately, Tina was successful in protecting her daughters and her family has enjoyed complete peace since October 2014 when a Family Court commissioner called her ex-husband a “sociopath” and revoked his parenting time in a final custody order.
Tina Swithin: Divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s books are available online at Amazon (print, Kindle or audio format). Each year, Tina offers life-changing weekends of camaraderie and healing at the Lemonade Power Retreat. Tina also offers one-on-one coaching services and a private, secure forum called, The Lemonade Club, for those enduring high-conflict custody battles.